Oral hygiene is extremely important for any patient undergoing orthodontic treatment. Proper brushing and flossing is vital to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, and is essential in preventing the development of stains, streaks or other evidence of structural damage on the teeth. This damage can be in the form of permanent white spots, brown spots, cavities, and/or gum disease. To prevent this from happening, you must develop a system of cleaning every surface of your teeth. Remember, both straight teeth and healthy looking teeth are essential to a beautiful smile. If you get in the habit of cleaning your teeth well, you will be well on your way to having that beautiful smile and maintaining it for many years to come! Brushing with Braces Most orthodontists will recommend brushing when you wake up in the morning, before bed, and after every meal. In addition, you can use a fluoride and/or anti-bacterial mouth rinse after brushing to keep your teeth strong and healthy. Additional hygiene mechanisms exist, such as electric toothbrushes and water picks that may help out if you need more than a conventional tooth brush and floss. Ask your orthodontist or dentist if they have any specific recommendations for your individual situation. Flossing with Braces Cleaning between your teeth with floss is a necessary and often overlooked way to clean deep in between teeth and in the crevices where teeth contact each other. The bristles of a toothbrush often cannot reach these areas, making flossing an essential part of preventing decay and infected, swollen gum tissue. With braces, it is difficult to floss normally because the archwire and other orthodontic appliances can get in the way. The best way to work around the braces is to thread the floss underneath the wire so that the line of floss can then be fit between the teeth. Depending on the types of appliances you have, or the shape of  your gum tissue, you may need to use an orthodontic floss threader to help. This a small plastic device that helps guide the end of floss accurately. To floss, gently push the floss through the contact point of two teeth. Then, wrap the floss around one tooth in the shape of the letter C and gently move the floss up and down. Make sure to clean under the gums because this a common place where bacteria and food particles can become trapped, especially with braces on. When you are finished with the side of one tooth, clean the side of the tooth next to it the same way. Then, remove the floss from under the arch wire and continue to the next two teeth. Work your way around your mouth until the sides of all your teeth have been cleaned. At first, flossing may take a long time, but as your practice every day, you will get better and faster at flossing your teeth. You may also be surprised as to how much cleaner your teeth look and feel, and how much healthier your gums appear with regular flossing. Make it a habit to floss at least once a day and certainly at each appointment with your orthodontist when the wires are removed. As you begin, you may notice some minor bleeding around your gums. This is OK, it is a result of tissue swelling and irritation from food debris, and an indication that flossing is needed! As you continue to floss regularly, you should notice a decrease in bleeding and tissue redness. Many patients underestimate the importance of flossing. Remember that flossing cleans areas of the teeth and gums that brushing alone cannot. With proper brushing and flossing habits, your teeth and gums will be clean and healthy, and you will be on your way to having a new beautiful smile!
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Brushing & Flossing